Understanding Commercial Waste Regulations

It is your responsibility legally to sort, keep, move and dispose of waste produced by your business safely. This includes everything from paper shredding and rubble to floor sweepings and even leftover food. You have to take the necessary steps to make sure the waste your business creates is properly handled, whether you hire a waste management company or do it yourself.

If you fail to follow the legislation set out by the government, as well as affecting the reputation of your company, you could be hit with strict penalties.

Understanding the Duty of Care

The waste generated by your business may potentially cause harm to people’s health and the environment, if not dealt with properly. Your organisation is legally obliged to ensure the waste generated has been handled properly. This is your Duty of Care and includes:

  • Organise and keep waste safe
  • Use waste carriers are fully licenced
  • Fill out waste transfer notes correctly
  • Disposing waste at disposal facilities that are fully licenced

Organising and Safely Storing the Waste Your Business Generates

Regardless of the waste generated by your business, it needs to be organised and kept securely and safely.

Arranging Waste

  • Separate waste and place it into containers with clear labels
  • Avoid contaminating one kind with another

Waste Storage

  • Waste should be stored in a secure area
  • You should use large containers with secure covers to prevent the waste from blowing away or escaping
  • Utilise watertight covers to stop contaminated run-off from escaping
  • Put waste containers out on the right days for collection

Business Waste Disposal

There are 2 ways you can dispose of business waste; by hiring a professional waste management firm or taking care of it yourself.

Waste Transfer Note

An important legal document you need to complete each time you have waste collected is a waste transfer note. This note outlines what waste you have included in the collection, so it can be cared for properly. Important information required includes:

  • Full description of the waste and its weight
  • How it has been contained
  • The location and date of its transfer
  • You need to keep copies of waste transfer notes for 2 years at the very least and have them available to show enforcement officers from either the Environment Agency or local council.

    Be sure any waste collected and taken care of by licenced waste carriers is dealt with at a facility fully licenced for waste disposals like recycling plants or landfill sites. It is against the law to dump waste on land that doesn’t have a licence for it, and this is considered fly-tipping.

Waste Transfer Licence

You can only have business waste removed from your premises by a waste carrier with a waste transfer licence. This can be obtained through the gov.uk site for the relatively small charge of £154.

Unusual Waste Disposal Regulations

If your business produces or deals with what is considered to be unusual waste, there may be stricter rules and regulations about its handling and disposal. This includes things like electrical items and asbestos. Below we have highlighted some common examples of the management of specific waste that is more strictly regulated.

WEEE or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment

WEEE is the category of waste product that covers all electrical items powered either by a battery or a mains outlet and includes smoke detectors, drills and fridges. The majority of electrical goods are made from materials, many of which are considered hazardous.

A total of 80 cubic-metres of WEEE can be stored on your company’s property at any one time. If the WEEE contains mercury or it is fluorescent tubes though, you are only allowed to keep 50 cubic-metres of this kind of waste.

You are allowed to store WEEE for up to 3 months before it needs to be collected and disposed of via a licenced waste carrier and it needs to be kept in watertight containers with a crossed-out wheelie bin symbol.

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste is anything harmful to the environment or human health and includes medicines, asbestos and paint. If your company generates hazardous waste, it needs to be an officially registered Hazardous Waste Producer.

It needs to be stored carefully inside containers labelled and sealed and made from materials compatible with that waste. These containers then need to be placed inside other containers to prevent leaks or spills. You need to avoid mixing non-hazardous with hazardous waste and it should be kept no longer than 90 days on your property before it is collected and taken away for disposal.

Animal By-Products

Animal By-Products describes parts of or whole bodies of animals, along with anything made by animals, like manure. If you handle and produce this kind of waste you need to be registered through the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

Always keep different kinds of animal by-products in separate containers to prevent cross-contamination. The containers should be labelled clearly and weathertight. Only licenced waste carriers are allowed to collect and dispose of animal by-products waste.

Penalties for Not Complying with Waste Disposal Regulations

There are a number of serious penalties charges your business will be liable to pay if it does not fully comply with regulations regarding trade waste disposal. If you don’t want to face a £50,000 fine or 5 years in prison, you need to take your Duty of Care seriously.


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